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July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Damascus’

Extreme Readiness Along Northern Border

Monday, May 6th, 2013

The IAF attacks on missiles and other weapons caches in Damascus have led yesterday to a particularly tense day up north, perhaps the most tense since the Second Lebanon War. The Air Force ordered the closure of Israel’s northern airspace until Thursday. This despite unofficial military evaluations that there will be no serious retaliation on the part of Syria or Hezbollah, who are both too busy fighting the Sunni rebels to care for a second, deadly front against Israel.

Israel’s concern is primarily Hezbollah, the more volatile member of the northern, unholy alliance, and the intended recipient of those demolished Fateh-110 long-range missiles. So the level of readiness was increased for the entire north, which included an IDF request that residents of the Western Galilee to avoid fireworks and loud music.

Talk about nervous trigger fingers.

The Northern Command, which had been planning a major exercise of civilian defense response to a Syrian rocket attack—decided to shelve it for the time being. As it is, folks started to form lines to get their gas masks and the rest of the official defense kit.

According to Maariv, the Golan Heights residents have been less nervous after the two successive IAF attacks on Syria. Possibly because the Syrian border has been the quietest for the past 40 years. But things in the Middle east have a tendency to change rapidly, especially with news of Al Qaeda and other fanatics moving south as part of their encounters with the Syrian army.

Meanwhile, the Home Front Command’s Information Center has announced the inauguration of a new call-routing system enabling speakers of foreign languages to talk to a representative of the Home Front Command and a translator on the phone. Should the IDF be unable to provide a translation to a particular language in real time, the operators will record the caller’s phone number and call back with a translator on the line.

“Ultimately, what’s important is that each of the information platforms be available to civilians, who will know that there is an address for every question,” Col. Sigal Tidhar, Head of the Home Front Command’s Population Department, told the IDF Website. “The center is available 24/7, and now we have also successfully addressed [foreign] languages through a translation company that gives us this service. Right now, the response is provided immediately, and even during Operation Pillar of Defense we reinforced the stations so there would be no waiting time.”

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 18 percent of Israelis speak Arabic as their mother tongue, 15 percent Russian, followed by Amharic, English, French, German, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Yiddish.

Chemical Weapons Expert: Russia Is Key to Avoid War with Syria

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Russia is the only key to end the bloodshed in Syria and to neutralize the chemical weapons threat without a foreign military intervention, according to a former Israeli Dense Ministry chemist who is considered perhaps the country’s best expert on chemical weapons in Syria.

It is totally inconceivable to bomb the chemical and biological weapons because an attack could cause exactly the horrid result that everyone outside of Syria wants to prevent – a large scale humanitarian disaster, retired Lt. Col Dr. Dany Shoham told The Jewish Press Sunday. He is a former macro-biologist and chemist for the Defense Ministry and specialized in chemical and biological warfare in the Middle East.

There are two ways to make sure their chemical and biological weapons will not be used – either by foreign military intervention, which would entail getting rid of Assad and replacing him temporarily with a non-Syrian; or ending the bloody civil war by diplomacy, an approach that is virtually impossible without Russia’s cooperation, he said.

There is no doubt that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and it is “99 percent certain” that it is Assad and not the rebels who have committed a war crime by unleashing them, in violation of the Geneva Convention and all rules of war, Dr. Shoham stated. “In my opinion, there is only the slightest chance that rebels have used chemical weapons, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do so,” said the former macro-biologist for the Defense Ministry.

Syria is manufacturing the chemical and biological weapons within Syria, but Russia may be assisting Syria, he added.

As for the military option, he pointed out that the United States is “planning and practicing for an operation” in Jordan, using its own officers and soldiers as well as Jordanians.

“Whoever wants to prevent danger ideally should replace Syrian guards,” he said. Dr. Shoham  did not say what would happen next, but it is clear that any foreign invader would be stuck with local resentment far worse than what the United States faced in Iraq after its invasion. A foreign takeover also would likely plant the seeds for an eventual radical Muslim regime that could make the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood look like bleeding heart liberals.

However, the invading force at least would be able to confiscate the chemical and biologic weapons, according to Dr. Shoham. “We know where most, but not all, of them can be found,” he said.

The diplomatic option so far has not taken hold for the simple reason that without Russia, it can’t happen.

“The solution has to come from Russia. Russia has to force Syria diplomatically,” he said, and “America knows it.”

How and when they might happen is conjecture, but Dr. Shoham pointed out that President Barack Obama will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in five weeks.

The two leaders spoke by phone last week, and the White House stated, “President Obama and President Putin reviewed the situation in Syria, with President Obama underscoring concern over Syrian chemical weapons,” and they agreed to “stay in close consultation” by instructing their foreign ministers to continue discussions on Syria.

President Obama and Putin are due to meet in June during the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet in Northern Ireland.

Moscow is invested up to its neck in the Syria military arsenal, and if it does not want to see it boomerang on itself by letting it fall in the wrong hands, Putin will have the opportunity to play the role as world leader and twist Assad’s arm – if it is not too late.

Syrian Warns and Warns and Warns It Will Retaliate

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

A Syrian official warned Israel on Sunday that the bombing of its “military research facility” [Read: missiles from Iran] is a “declaration of war,” and Damascus will retaliate whenever it wants.

The bombing of the missiles, which were destined for Hezbollah as a way station before their final explosive stop deep inside Israel, “opens the door to all possibilities,” said Syrian Information Minister Amran a-Zoabi.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad told CNN the attack is is an act of war and an outcome of Israel’s allegedly working with terrorists in Syria.

Israel is taking all precautions, such deploying the Iron Dome anti-missile system in the north.

But before everyone in Israel runs for the bomb shelters, it is worthwhile remembering that Israel in 2007 staged an aerial attack on a nuclear reactor that was under construction with the help of North Korean scientists.

Syria did not react.

Four months ago, Israel bombed a convoy of missiles on its way from Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, said Damascus “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.” He warned that Syria will retaliate in the way it chooses and when it chooses.

It sill is choosing.

Israel struck again early Friday morning, bombing Fateh-110 missiles that had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus.

Syria did not react.

And again on Sunday morning Israel bombed again.

This time, Syria retaliated by sending a complaint to the United Nations.

Assad has been described by Pulitzer Prize winner Joel Brinkley as “the most dangerous man in the world,” a far more accurate description than that of then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who termed him a “reformer” two months after the rebellion began in the form of peaceful demonstrations.

Given his position of “kill or be killed,” it would not be wise to pooh-pooh the possibility of his going totally berserk and attacking Israel.

And given Israel’s strikes to keep Hezbollah from accessing “game-changer” long-range missiles aimed south of the border, Assad would be wise to run for a very deeply buried bomb shelter if he “retaliates.”

Israel Attacks Again, Explosions Shake Damascus (Video)

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Syrian state television said Israeli rockets had struck a military research center on the outskirts of the capital city.  Other sources say Israel hit Iranian Fateh-110 surface to surface missiles on route to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s Manar television station reported, citing security sources in Damascus, that an Israeli warplane was shot down by Syrian air-defense units during the raid. There was no independent confirmation of the claim and Israel did not comment on the raid reports.

In response to the Syrian clain, the Free Syria Media  Hub (sarcastically?) claimed on Twitter, “#sana tv crew caught painting an old mig fighter tail with israeli airforce markings near #damascus”.   Sana is the Syrian government controlled TV station.

The blasts took place two days after the IAF had carried out an air strike targeting a cache of  missiles in Syria intended for delivery to the Hezbollah in Lebanon. The “research center” hit Sunday morning was also targeted by Israel in January.

“Initial information indicates that the explosions at the scientific research center in Jamraya near Damascus were caused by Israeli missiles,” the official SANA news agency reported. It offered no further details.

Damascus residents reported hearing massive blasts at 1:50 AM Sunday.

“There was a large explosion. We first felt shakes like an earthquake and 30 seconds later heard gunfire,” one resident told The Daily Star by telephone from the Syrian capital.

“There was an electricity cut then a large boom. The door of my balcony opened from the after effect,” another resident said, adding that warplanes could be heard overhead.

Video footage uploaded by activists shows a huge ball of fire rising into the night sky.

“The new Israeli attack is an attempt to raise the morale of the terrorist groups which have been reeling from strikes by our noble army,” Syrian television said, referring to recent offensives by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against rebels.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials on Sunday’s explosions. “We don’t respond to this kind of report,” an Israeli military spokeswoman told Reuters.

The U.S. State Department also had no immediate comment.



Assad Makes Rare Public Appearance

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Syrian President Bashar Assad visited a Damascus power station on May Day Wednesday in a rare public appearance, according to the regime’s television station.

The television station showed Assad speaking to workers and shaking their hands,

He has tried to show Syrians that all is “business as usual” despite the bloody civil war and charges that he has used chemical weapons against citizens.

Government media disseminate daily reports of Syrian army victories over “foreign terrorists,” whom the regime accuses of using chemical weapons.

Syrian Says Prime Minister Survived Car Bomb Explosion

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Rebels, termed “terrorists” by the Assad regime, killed six people in a car bomb explosion in Damascus that failed to claim the life of its main target, Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi.

Official state media broadcast the report of the car bomb, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed it.

The apparent suicide attack was carried out as al-Halaqui’s convoy was passing by in a government-controlled area that includes a key military airport.

Information from Syria is extremely unreliable from both the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition groups.

Nearly 100 Massacred near Damascus

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Nearly 100 bodies were counted by rebels in the streets of a Damascus suburb after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army allegedly executed men, women and children.

The report was not verified, but the official Syrian SANA news agency reported, “Armed Forces units inflicted heavy losses upon terrorists in the town of Jdiadet al-Fadl in Damascus Countryside.”

At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $123 million in “non-lethal” to rebels as the Obama administration, plays it safe in what has clearly become a “lose-lose” war not only for Syria but also for the Middle East, if not the entire world.

Jamal al Golani, a member of the Revolution Leadership Council, said he counted 98 bodies in the streets. “There are almost no wounded because they were shot on the spot,” he added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included three children and six women.

Meanwhile, the West still is scratching its head over the civil war that threatens to spread to neighboring Lebanon.

It took too long for the Obama administration to understand it was backing the wrong man when then-US. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after the beginning of the rebellion two years ago, “Assad is a reformer.”

The United States already has suffered two major diplomatic disasters in the past two years.  It backed the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has been replaced by an equally corrupt regime that promotes fundamental Islam. In Libya, the truth still is not known about the events leading up to the brutal murder of the American ambassador.

The West realizes that the civil war in Syria is not just a struggle of the “rebels” against Assad but is prime turf for terrorist organizations, not the least of them Al Qaeda, to stake out a power base.

Kerry, who as Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman frequently shuttled back and forth Syria to “engage” Assad, cannot do much more than try not to look helpless and offer humanitarian aid. The $123 million aid, which also is for non-lethal weapons such as armored carriers and communications equipment, is double the previous amount of assistance.

His hope is that the Syrian rebels will unite and live up to their pledge made on Sunday that it rejects extremism and is committed “not to use chemical weapons.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/nearly-100-massacred-near-damascus/2013/04/22/

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